International Law in Brief

By: Eric A. Heath | February 10, 2017 |

On January 26, 2017, the U.K. High Court of Justice ruled in Okpabi v. Royal Dutch Shell that Nigerian nationals cannot use U.K. courts to sue Shell or its Nigerian subsidiary for damage resulting from oil spills affecting the Niger Delta and the surrounding area. In the judgment, Justice Fraser reasoned that there was no jurisdictional nexus from the facts to the U.K., stating that “there is simply no connection whatsoever between this jurisdiction and the claims brought by the claimants, who are Nigerian citizens, for breaches of statutory duty and/or in common law for acts and...

By: Eric A. Heath | February 10, 2017 |

On January 26, 2017, the Daejeon District Court ruled that a South Korean temple could retain possession of a Buddhist statute that was stolen from a Japanese shrine in 2012 on the grounds that Japanese pirates had previously stolen it from South Korea centuries earlier. According to a news report, the thieves that stole that statue were caught trying to sell the statue in South Korean. It was slated to return to Japan, but a court granted an injunction requested by a South Korean temple in 2013 that kept the statute in South Korea until its historical ownership could be determined. Both...

By: Eric A. Heath | February 10, 2017 |

On January 26, 2017, the United Nations Security Council issued a resolution regarding the efforts to reunify Cyprus. The resolution welcomed “the progress of the leaders-led negotiations so far and the ongoing efforts of the leaders and their negotiators to reach a comprehensive and durable settlement, and encourage[d] the sides to grasp the current opportunity with determination to secure a comprehensive settlement.” According to the press release, the Council also extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until July 31, 2017, and “called upon both...

By: Eric A. Heath | February 10, 2017 |

On January 25, 2017, the General Court of the European Union ruled in Joint-Stock Company Almaz-Antey” Air and Space Defence Corp. v. Council to uphold the freezing of assets of the Russian state-owned company, Almaz-Antey. The sanctions were introduced in response to the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014. According to the press release, “the Council did not act disproportionately in deciding to freeze the funds of entities supporting, materially or financially, actions of the Russian Government which undermine or threaten the territorial...

By: Eric A. Heath | February 03, 2017 |

On January 24, 2017, the U.K. Supreme Court ruled in R v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union that the government must put to a vote of Parliament the triggering of Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union, which would notify the European Union of the U.K.’s intent to leave the EU.  According the press release, the Court reasoned that since the European Communities Act (ECA) that brought the U.K. into the EU and granted rights to British residents was implemented by Parliament, any withdrawal from the EU must also be enacted by Parliament, rather than relying on...

By: Eric A. Heath | February 03, 2017 |

On January 23, 2017, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) amendment to the WTO Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement entered into force when member states surpassed a two-thirds threshold of required ratifications. According to the press release, the member states “took the decision to amend the TRIPS Agreement specifically to adapt the rules of the global trading system to the public health needs of people in poor countries.” The amendment made permanent a waiver for the export of pharmaceuticals produced by compulsory licensing that originated in...

By: Eric A. Heath | February 03, 2017 |

On January 20, 2017, a three-judge panel of the Central District Court in Seoul ruled that the Korean government had violated Korean law by detaining and forcing treatment upon prostitutes that catered to U.S. soldiers in the 1960s and 1970s. According to a news report, the Court ordered the government to pay each of the fifty-seven plaintiffs the “equivalent of $4,240 each in compensation for physical and psychological damage,” though the judges stopped short of forcing the government to apologize or finding that it was responsible for creating and maintaining the camps in which the...

By: Eric A. Heath | February 03, 2017 |

On January 20, 2017, the U.K. High Court of Justice (HCJ) ruled in Micula v. Romania that the registration of an International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) tribunal award issued against Romania in 2013 should not be annulled, though its enforcement should be stayed pending a parallel proceeding. The original dispute arose when Swedish nationals with business interests in Romania filed suit against the Romanian government under the bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between Sweden and Romania that was signed in 2002 and entered into force in 2003. The...

By: Eric A. Heath | February 03, 2017 |

On January 19, 2017, the Russian Constitutional Court (RCC) ruled (Russian only) that Russia did not have to comply with the 2014 European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling, OAO Neftyanaya Kompaniya Yukos v. Russia. The ECtHR ruling ordered Russia to pay 1.8 billion euros to former shareholders of Yukos, an energy company nationalized by the Russian government, for the retroactive collection of taxes in violation of the Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The RCC rejected this determination, reasoning that the Russian...

By: Eric A. Heath | February 03, 2017 |

On January 19, 2017, Mexico agreed to extradite Joaquin Guzman Loera, known as “El Chapo,” to the United States to face prosecution for charges related to his leadership Sinaloa Cartel.  According to a bulletin from the U.S. Department of Justice, “Guzman Loera is charged in six separate indictments throughout the United States.” In 2015, Guzman Loera escaped from his Mexican prison through an elaborate tunnel system; he was recaptured in 2016, however.